Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Schomburgk's Deer

Rucervus schomburgki
The Schomburgk's Deer, named after British consul to Bangkok Richard H. Schomburgk, was first described in 1863. Less than 75 years later this graceful species was extinct.

It appears that the Schomburgk's Deer was endemic to Thailand, based on sightings and information, though they may have also lived in Laos and parts of China as well. They were large, graceful Deer with dark brown fur and lighter undersides. Males had antlers that could measure nearly a meter long each, females had no antlers. Their range was in open, swampy plains that were free from dense vegetation, and they lived in small groups that consisted of one male, a handful of females, and their offspring.

The habitat that they lived in played a major role in their extinction. In the late 19th and early 20th century, those same swampy plains were converted into commercial rice paddies. The deer moved into the few locations available to them, but would get even more condensed during the floods. They would flock to higher ground, but would then be easy targets for hunters. By 1932 the last wild Deer was killed, and the final captive specimen died 6 years later.

There is only one mounted Schomburgk's Deer in the entire world (at the Paris Natural History Museum), in addition to a handful of skulls, skins, and antlers. Some believe that the Schomburgk's Deer might still be out there, as a relatively fresh set of antlers was uncovered in 1991, but there have been no confirmed sightings, and the species remains listed as Extinct.

IUCN Status : Extinct since 1938
Location : Thailand
Size : Shoulder height around 3.3ft (1m)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Mammalia -- Order : Artiodactyla
Family : Cervidae -- Genus : Rucervus -- Species : †R. schomburgki

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